The trophy case at Rouse has been filling up over the last four years.
The Raiders finished off the final week of the regular season with wins over Cedar Park and Pflugerville to finish the District 17-5A season undefeated and win their fourth straight district crown.
“We’re right where we want to be going into the third part of the season,” Rouse head coach Jacob Thompson said. “Kudos to the girls for working hard. It’s a grind, and they continued to grind things out.”
Rouse rallied from two sets down to beat Cedar Park 3-2 (22-25, 24-26, 25-19, 26-24, 15-12) on Tuesday night and followed that up with a 3-1(18-25, 25-20, 25-13, 25-18) win over Pflugerville on Friday.
The Timberwolves spoiled the run-in for Rouse last year when they beat the Raiders in the penultimate match last season to win a share of the championship.
For this big group of Rouse seniors, it feels good to once again be alone at the top.
“It’s been incredible to be with this class,” senior Jenna Hanson said. “I would say coming from last year, it’s really made us work hard for every point and really being purposeful when we’re on the court.
Tuesday night was the first time Rouse trailed in a match since the Raiders and Timberwolves faced off in the first round of district play and Cedar Park won the first set. Their last loss was in August at the LISD Volleypalooza tournament.
“We’re trying to get healthy again and get back to 100 percent,” Thompson said. “To settle down and come back in the final three sets is big. That’s a testament to Cedar Park, but November is that way. They’re all big matches in my eyes.”
Freshman Kyla Lopez led the Raiders with 13 kills and 10 digs against Cedar Park, while Grayson Shhirpik had 11 kills and 15 digs. Senior Madison Butler had six aces and five total blocks and Kara Erfurth had 38 assists.
Traditionally a big rivalry on the volleyball court, the Cedar Park side of the gym was just as packed as the Rouse side, and the Timberwolves’ student section let the Raiders hear it for the first two sets.
“We talk a lot about staying focused and being mindful when we’re in the game,” Hanson said. “We try to feed off the energy, whether it's coming from the Cedar Park side or our side. When things started getting low, we relied on each other.”
Rouse fell behind in the first set against Pflugerville and could never recover, but won the final three sets going away.
Schirpik had her second double-double of the week with 15 kills and 25 digs, while junior Emery Reid chipped in with 15 kills and 12 digs. Reilly Heinrich finished with 21 digs and three aces, and Erfurth had 48 assists.
“There was really competitive volleyball on both sides of the net, “Thompson said. “It’s good to have going into November. That’s been something we’ve been looking for. Now it's just about playing clean volleyball.”
The last week of the season, and the matches against Cedar Park and Pflugerville, two teams that should join Rouse in the postseason, was a good test for the Raiders when every game will have similar intensity and require even more focus.
The postseason midst is similar to the one in the regular season, but there are also some differences.
“In the district, you always have a safety net, and when you get into playoffs, you don’t have that anymore,” Hanson said. “We need to be focused in the game we have immediately because that’s the first step to making it in the long run.”